How Do You Handle Stress?

Over the past several weeks, changes in my team at work have significantly increased my workload as well as the number of projects under my oversight.  As a result, my stress level climbed.  Coming from the long hours and overwhelming workload of public accounting, work-related stress is not new to me.  The most important things are pursuing your passions outside of work and finding a healthy source of stress relief.

I’ve written in the past about the importance of doing fun things.  This isn’t groundbreaking stuff.  But sometimes when you find yourself underneath a dark cloud it’s hard to remember that sunshine is right around the corner.  Really though, it’s extremely important to find things outside of work that excite you and that give you purpose.  Having something to look forward to during the week gives you something positive to think about and a light at the end of the tunnel.

Another thing that can’t be understated is the importance of exercise.  Let me tell you, I have never felt bad after a run.  Not once have I finished a run and thought to myself, “that was a total waste of time.”  Physical benefits aside, cardio is excellent stress relief and it does wonders for your mood and mental health.  Often after a stressful day the last thing I want to do is lace up my shoes and go for a run.  At that point, my main concern is finding something to eat and parking my butt on the couch to zonk out for a few hours before bed.  It’s a lot like somebody once said:

The first step out the door is the hardest one.

You’re the person who knows you best.  Realistically are you going to want to exercise after a long day of work?  Are you able to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break?  If not, your only option is rolling yourself out of bed a little earlier and exercising before work.

But I don’t like getting up early!

No one said your workout has to take a lot of time.  Waking up just 30 minutes earlier will give you plenty of time to go for a short 20 minute run.  Now before somebody comes in telling me you need 30 minutes of cardio per day per Harvard Medical School, we’re talking about doing no regular exercise versus 20 minutes daily.  Something is better than nothing, and everyone has to start somewhere.

Regular exercise also contributes to your overall energy level.  Exercise improves sleep quality and will go a long way towards making you feel more rested when you wake up.  If choosing between 30 minutes of sleep or 30 minutes of exercise, the exercise is more valuable than sleep.  To be fair, if you’re not getting enough sleep you should evaluate your schedule and prioritize sleep and exercise.  Find somewhere else in your schedule to cut the 30 minutes and get your sleep as well as your exercise.

This too shall pass.

Stress comes and goes.  When you’re in a stressful situation take a deep breath and think about what’s really important.  How do you deal with stress?  Let me know in the comments below!